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Ratthapong Wilairot Doubles in Thailand Finale to Claim First ARRC SS600 Title
December 4, 2018
December 4, 2018—The sixth and final round of the 2018 season of the Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) took place from November 30 to December 2 at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand. Local hero Ratthapong Wilairot of the Yamaha Thailand Racing Team won both Race 1 and Race 2 aboard his YZF-R6 in the premier SuperSports 600 class to pull off a stunning comeback from 6th in the standings and win his first career title.
Wilairot’s season got off to a rocky start at Round 1 as he finished with a strong 6th place in Race 1 but then a disappointing 14th in Race 2. But at Round 2 at the newly included Australian round, he finished 2nd in Race 2 alongside Yuki Ito and Ramdan Rosli to complete an all-Yamaha podium sweep. Following that, he notched up steady top ten results, including another podium with 3rd place in Race 2 at Round 5 in Indonesia. This put him in 6th overall in the championship heading into the final round.
With points leader Anthony West unable to participate in the last round, Wilairot was in with a slim chance to claim the title, with a significant 45-point gap to West and an 11-point gap to the rider in 2nd. This meant that he would need to win both races outright to become champion. Despite this pressure, Wilairot prepared well for the races and eventually secured pole position in qualifying. In Race 1 he got away at the front along with teammate Decha Kraisart, before the two engaged in a duel for the win and Wilairot came out the victor. Race 2 saw him pass Kraisart early on, before running a race very similar to Race 1 and once again taking the win. This shot him ahead of his five rivals for the championship, including West, to take the title in stunning fashion.
“I felt huge pressure on me the entire time because the title was riding on this weekend, and to win it I knew I needed to win both races. I was only able to pull it off because Yamaha and my team provided me with an amazing machine. I also think it’s thanks to my teammate Decha; he kept me riding at a high pace at the front in both races. I also have to thank him for helping to keep my championship rivals behind me! Looking back on the season, I did stand on the podium four times, but all in all I can’t say that every race went according to plan. Luck also played a part, like my rivals not being able to race. But right now, I’m just feeling fantastic because this is the first championship I’ve ever won. Of course, I want to thank Yamaha, my team, and all the fans who’ve supported me. They’re the reason I was able to win this title. I’m grateful to everyone from the bottom of my heart. Thank you so much!”